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Custody Evaluations

Custody evaluations may be needed when the parents cannot agree on what custody and parenting time arrangements are in the best interests of the children.

Generally, the parents agree on one neutral expert who will make recommendations regarding what parenting arrangements are best for the children. A neutral expert is expected to make recommendations that emphasize what is best for the children without advocating for either parent. If, after reviewing the custody evaluator’s report, there are concerns about the report, you may consider retaining a custody evaluator as an expert to review the report and make recommendations and, perhaps, testify at trial.

Custody evaluations are performed by either a private evaluator or, more rarely, by the evaluators hired by the County in which the case is filed. County evaluators generally work through the Department of Court Services. Due to budget cuts to the court there are few county evaluators left to perform evaluations. Some courts are now asking Guardians to give recommendations to the court on custody and parenting time.

A private evaluator is expected to do a more detailed and thorough process of evaluation. It is expected that they will spend more time with the parents, children and perhaps with collateral witnesses such as teachers, daycare providers and counselors for the parents and children. They will typically perform psychological evaluations on the parents. It is on the more complex cases that the private evaluator may provide a more in-depth look at the 13 factors for determining custody simply because they have more resources available to them.

The parties can consider a limited scope evaluation that looks at one or two factors of the 13 best interest factors. Usually, the factor evaluated is the mental health of the parties. Using a limited scope evaluation can help save costs in a case.

Our education, skills and experience can help you make informed decisions about protecting the best interests of your children. We will respect your needs and provide creative solutions to your child custody disputes.


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Susan M. Gallagher
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